So, you see a puddle of water on the floor or a stain on your ceiling. Maybe it’s obvious, perhaps it’s not quite clear. Let’s look at the steps you can take to identify whether you really have a leak!
One indication of a leak can be disturbed dust patterns that look like a dirty care after the rain has dried. Whether that water was from an open window, a leaking supply line, or a spill from your kids last meal can be a little tougher to tell.
Water always follows the path of least resistance. There is a good chance that if you found evidence of a leak and it has not been repaired, that the water will travel to that spot again. One trick to help identify the source of the leak uses a paper towel or paper bag. Place the paper towel or paper bag under the source of the drip. If a drip falls it will leave a spot which can confirm that you’ve found the source of the issue. You could also make an ink grid on the paper with a non-permanent market to make drips more apparent.
If there are supply lines or appliances near the suspected leak, be sure to check them carefully for rips or splits, unsecured hoses, or any other issue that could cause a leak. If these items appear to be clear, turn on the water or the appliance. Make sure that you can turn the water or appliance off again quickly just in case. Once the water is on, check for leaks and turn everything back off. If you see drips on your paper, place a bowl or bucket in the area to catch the water. Trace the drip back to the exact spot where the water is originating.
If after these efforts, you still see no evidence of an active leak, it could be a slow leak. Check on the area daily or as needed to see if a drip falls when you are not looking. If there are no drips after about a week, then it may have been another issue. There are also scenarios where water only appears after it rains. There are many instances of different causes of a leak, and many that are difficult to identify and repair. Make sure that you contact a licensed professional if the problem proves to be a little more trouble than you up for tackling.
Please keep in mind that just because you cannot identify a leak yourself, doesn’t always mean you don’t have one. Listen to your gut and look at the evidence. If you feel something isn’t right, your water bill suddenly shoots up, your water meter seems to be running a marathon, or you hear running water when nothing is on and can’t find the reason, don’t wait, call your trusted local plumber right away! Not all leaks are easily visible, or leave obvious clues. Some leaks, like ones under a home, may manifest as a warm spot under your feet that hasn’t been there before, or a yard that suddenly has squishy places (possibly broken sprinkler pipe, but also a potential septic issue). These sorts of leaks require a licensed plumber quickly!